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Fort Stephenson

War of 1812 Letters--John Hollyday

[The following article is a copy of letters written by a soldier describing life at Fort Stephenson, which was in Fremont. ("War of 1812 Letters - John Hollyday" submitted by Margaret Dieringer; published in Ross County Genealogical Society Newsletter, vol. 18 no. 4 1990-1991, pg. 43,45.) Used by permission.]

Robert Hollyday came to Western Ross County before Ohio became a state. He settled on the banks of Buckskin where the present village of Fruitdale is located. He and his wife, Isabella Campbell, joined the Buckskin Presbyterian Church (later renamed Salem) when it was organized in 1802. Their son, John, joined a few years later and about 1809 he married Eleanor Wilson, the daughter of James and Sarah Wilson who were also early members of the church. John & Eleanor went to housekeeping on a farm on Buckskin that remained in the family for over 100 years. In the early spring of 1813 John was called to serve in the war of 1812. While he was gone Eleanor stayed with his parents but she rode horseback to their farm and leaving the baby at the end of the row, she with a hoe planted the corn.

--Margaret Dieringer, 138 S. Fifth St., Greenfield OH 45123 (letters below)

May the 27th 1813

Fort Stephens Lore Sandusky

Affectionate Companion I received your letter this morning of the 23rd instent Which gave me a grate deal of satisfaction to hear that you are well and that Wilson is a good boy

It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to hear that the corn is planted and that you expect it will be tended for I did not look for that to be done

Our troops at this place is generaly well but at this time there is a grat deal of confution in the camp and I do not know what it will end in the governor has discharged Major Harper and sent another Officer to comand the fort and we are of opinion it was an arbetery act and in consequences of this there is 18 of our men diserted this morning

It was reported that the queen Sharlote was at the mouth of the river and would atact this place but our speyes that we sent out on that ocation is returned from the bay and we find that account to be groundless they likewise stat that they believe that thar was not an Indian within forty miles of this place

We have plenty to eat and drink but the weather is very cold for the season we have frost in the mornings at this place yet and the wind blows very cold

I would be desireous to get home but I cant any way to get to without doing as them that has gon and I think it is best to stay to such time as I can go home in safety and with some honor as I cant think to lose my time for nothing and be farther back than when I started

I have nothing of importance to write to you I comit you to the ruler of all the earth whom trus will keep us from all danger and bring us together again to injoy each others company which will be a very desireable time to us I trust

Remember me to my frends and to all that may think fit to inquire after me nothing more at present but remaine your affectionate husband till death

John Hollyday

Fort Stephens Lore Sandusky

June the 19th 1813

Afectionate and loving wife I take my pen in hand to let you know that I am yet at fort Stephenson and expect to be hear until I am discharged but do not know wheither I will be discharged till my six months is out or not but if I have to stay six months you must think the time is short as posable we must bare with pations these little crosses that god has laid in our way I hope that godd will sanctfey these for our good and when he sees fit he will bring us together again as a family to join of hour king god has been very kind to me he has kept me from all acidents and in a grate measure from sickness

I burned by foot at upper Sanduskey when we lay thar with which I have traveled in much pain to this place but it is got as well as the other

I have had the french measels middling bad since John went home but I am recovered again to a good state of helth I am as harty this day as I have been since I left you I hope that these lines may find you and Wilson in the same state of helth

I have often heard it said that a soldears life was an easy life but I have found it quite the contray we have to work as hard as I would of at home we have built a house seventy feet long and 20 feet wide and that wont hold the half of the provisions that is coming to this place we are now building a large block house and a small fort we will be kept to work as long as we are in this place for there is a good deal to do and few hands to do it

The men is grumbling that they have to work so hard and is not like to get any pay but for my part I dont care about the pay I want to put in my touer of duty and go home to my family money is not my object but to serve my time and come home with honor

I heard that philip wagnor took home same bad news from here when he went home about the provitions that we got nothing but stinking meat and that it had magots in it as thick as rye straw but dont believe such tales for I think we have as good provition as any army ever had

We hav our flower baked into light bread every day we get good pickled pork that we roast or boil as we see fit we get more whiskey than we can drink and good candles but we cant get any good sope and we have to go with dirty close more than we could wish to do but largely speaking we are as well suplied as any part of the Northwestern army

Remember me to all my frends that inquire after my wellfair to my father in law and mother in law and nancy and matsey and polly and letty to Manel and Susannah and hetty and her sone my best love to Sally Hamilton and her family

Remember the priviloges you have that I am deprived of hearing the word and partaking of the ordinences of the house of god thes are great things and none know the good of them as well as them that is deprived of them the are grait blessings and a desireable thing to the belever how sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a belevers ears it southes his sorrowes heals his wounds and drives away his pain with these words I close these lines to you my dear nothing more at present but remain your loving husband till death

John Hollyday

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